Wealth Families Move Toward Stock Investments From Bonds

Wealthy families around the globe have started shifting assets into stocks from bonds, reflecting increasing optimism about the outlook, according to a survey by UBS AG (UBSN) and Campden Wealth Research.

Family offices in North America and in Asia-Pacific regions, which represented about half of those surveyed, shifted towards growth investment from more balanced and preservation strategies, UBS and Campden said in the annual report, due to be published tomorrow. Some 205 family offices with more than $180 billion in private wealth were surveyed in the first half.

“When you speak to the family offices there is a perception of taking more risk than in prior years,” Philip Higson, vice chairman of UBS’s global family office group, said in an interview in Zurich today. “We’re discussing equities and alternatives to fixed income more.”

A typical family office serves a family with seven households across three generations, according to the report. The average portfolio returned 9 percent in 2013, driven largely by investment in developed-market stocks, it estimated.

In Europe, family offices have remained more cautious, with about 17 percent pursuing growth strategies compared with 44 percent in North America, 33 percent in Asia Pacific and 20 percent in developing economies, according to the survey.

“Europe is a step behind,” said Andrew Porter, director of research at Campden Wealth, which is a family owned business. “Europe has always been more conservative and it faces different geopolitical and macroeconomic challenges.”

An investment portfolio of a European family office typically holds about 23 percent in equities, 16 percent in direct real estate investments, 14 percent in fixed-income products and 10 percent in cash. That compares with North American family offices, which typically have 30 percent in equities, 12 percent in real estate, 10 percent in fixed income and 7 percent in cash, according to the survey.

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